Tuesday, January 30, 2007

First They Came for the Domain Names

From the ICANN to EUSSR

In recent days our reader and frequent commenter Kepiblanc has talked about the coming takeover of local European internet governance by the EU. His latest mention of it was on yesterday’s Fjordman post:

Fjordman’s enthusiasm for the Internet may vanish when he realizes that the EU is about to take over control of the DNS (Domain Name System) from USA-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). A few years from now no European citizen will be able to read blogs like this one.

His comment piqued my interest, and I needed more information. Last night I emailed him with a question:

Kepi,

I need to pass more information about this on to the Europeans, particularly the Brits, in the 910 Group. Can you give me more details, or at least some URLs where you got your information?

His prompt reply was waiting in our inbox this morning:

Dear Baron,

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place in Tunisia (!) November 2005. Prior to that (2003) a conference in Geneva had tried to make the UN a major player in the DNS system, but failed, mainly due to opposition from the US and EU — who both doubted, and rightfully so — that the UN bureaucracy was up to the task. The new conference was sponsored by the EU, who eyed an opportunity to weaken the US-based ICANN and grab control over the European part of the Internet.

Of course nothing was said in clear text, but camouflaged in diplo-speak and the usual EU mumbo-jumbo. For example, see this press release, where commissar Viviane Reding had opened the front in July (Luxembourg) with these words:

You will also be aware that Internet governance is one of the main topics on the agenda of the World Summit of the Information Society — a reflection of the importance that the Internet has in today’s world and of the need for common understandings between the main stakeholders.

Only a few weeks ago, here in Luxembourg, the EU Council of Ministers agreed on a common European approach to key elements of the Internet governance debate. Some of these relate directly to the various stakeholders assembled in Luxembourg now under the ICANN banner.

In particular, Europe agreed on the need for ensuring better the active participation of all parts of the world in decisions on crucial issues such as the domain name system, IP addresses, further DNS issues or security problems (spam, spy ware, etc.). It is indeed fully legitimate that governments want to ensure that appropriate answers be given to issues such as cyber crime, SPAM, intellectual property rights and development objectives. Furthermore, it is in everybody’s interest that all countries in the world feel committed to common basic principles on the Internet.

She — like everyone in the EU nomenklatura — is a true pupil of Humpty-Dumpty from Alice’s Wonderland: When she speaks out against “monopolies” it doesn’t mean Microsoft or LEGO, but — in this case — ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). That’s the independent board overseeing the DNS system, a basic “world telephone book” which enables you and me to type an address in our browser and have it translated into an IP address so that our machines can fetch exactly the page we want. If this system is broken or “regulated” everybody would have to know the exact IP number of i.e. The New York Times in order to read today’s front page. And if this system can’t translate “Gates of Vienna” into the relevant IP number (like 208.196.76.28) this site is out of business.
- - - - - - - - - -
So, rather than the tedious undertaking with human censors to cut out politically incorrect opinions or jail their authors, it’s much simpler just to erase their domain names from the “telephone registry” — DNS. As the Germans say: Keine Hexerei, nur Behändigskraft.

Here we have European Commissioner Erkki Liikanen (responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society) in his speech “Internet governance the way ahead”:

But Internet Governance means more than just ICANN. In the world of the country-code names supporting organisations (ccTLDs), the vast majority of operational and policy decisions are made by the ccTLDs themselves at local level. This is how it should be.

Country-code names supporting organisations (ccTLDs) should be responsive to the needs of their local Internet communities, including their local governments and ICANN’s role is to provide a mechanism for global co-ordination when problems cannot be dealt with at national level.

In many ways this is analogous to the political EU principle of subsidiarity only do things in the center when there is a clear need to. To a large extent, this also allows national governments to decide for themselves what kind of relationship they want with their ccTLDs. I note that in Europe a variety of models exist, with some governments running their ccTLDs and others maintaining an arms-length relationship with a private sector operator. Both approaches seem to work, which is a endorsement of the principle of subsidiarity in this area of Internet governance.

Translation: “The Internet can’t be allowed to govern itself anymore. Governments must take over.”

The Tunisia (!) Conference ended with the usual “declarations”, “intentions” and “conclusions”, but without any real action taking place — yet. The ICANN is still independent and located in California. But for how long ?

The US Government doesn’t interfere with ICANN — for the time being. It is however not immune to the temptations offered at the Tunisia (!) conference. Read the following headline from German Der Spiegel, October 3, 2006:

EU begrüßt Rückzug der US-Regierung

Die Internetverwaltung Icann soll ab 2009 unabhängig von der US-Regierung arbeiten. Die EU-Kommission zeigte sich erfreut über den Rückzug des US-Staats — und will die Icann dabei unterstützen.

Weniger Einfluss der US-Regierung auf die Internetverwaltung Icann — das hatte nicht nur die EU-Kommission gefordert. Auch Länder wie Brasilien und Iran zeigten sich immer wieder verärgert über die Vormachtstellung der USA in Sachen Internet. Die Internetverwaltung Icann durfte nicht völlig autonom entscheiden — das US-Handelsministerium hatte stets seine Hände mit im Spiel, wenn es um Grundsatzentscheidungen wie neue Topleveldomains ging.

Translation: Governance of the Internet must become independent from the government of the US. The EU Commission is happy for the retreat of the US — and will support the ICANN in this respect. Not only did the EU demand less influence of the USA, so did countries like Brazil and Iran, who regret the dominating position of the US on the Internet. The administration of the Internet must not be decided autonomously — the US Secretary of Trade always had a hand in the game with respect to decision of new top-level domains.

Let’s puff the smoke away:

Until now ICANN operated much in the original way of the Internet: self-regulating anarchy, cooperation on the grassroots level, and open communities working together on principles of freedom. Not even “Evil Empires” like Microsoft have been able to monopolize the Internet — no matter how much they tried to do so. But with the ever-increasing importance of the Internet the danger of same becomes apparent to totalitarian governments and their hired hands in the MSM. The Internet must not be crushed, but controlled, regulated and censored.

In this battle against freedom the EU is at the forefront — together with Iran and all the other Barbaristans, of course. To them freedom — especially freedom of speech — is the worst nightmare thinkable. Like the sharia law, the new EU “Constitution” aims to take control over every bit of human activity, including thinking. The EU alliance with the Muslim world is perfectly logical.

The question is not if, but when the Internet is amputated, mutilated, and disabled.

Thank you, Kepiblanc, for this lucid explanation.

For 910 Group members who are reading this: please post it to the forum in whatever you think the best place would be. Since the UK chapter is the largest European contingent we have, they may be the ones who will want to look into it.

The time to start planning is now, while we can still communicate. There may be hacking methods that can get around the future censorship of DNS servers.

If Kepiblanc is right, one morning our European readers will wake up and discover that http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com and http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php turn up a “404 — Not Found” page in their browser windows. We need to start thinking about contingency scenarios before that happens.

26 comments:

MrSmith said...

Big thanks to Baron and Kepi for informing readers of this. I think I'll have to make a few more bloggers aware of it. Horrible thought, this could even end up in the blog I contribute to (A Tangled Web) being shut down.

Ending freedom of expression can't be allowed. There must be a way around this.

mike said...

Well, remember, when google.com is made up of thousands of computer. when you navigate to that URL...you get sent to one of them. which one depends on a variety of factors (geography, time of day, load on other servers, etc, etc).

all you need to defeat an EUCCP dominated DNS system is a couple of dozen GoV'ers or LGF'ers acting in a similar way.

for evidence of this happending, look to the music and movie sharing sub-cultures. they have thrived in spite of being hunted by a multi-billion dollar industry.

Brent Steeno said...

This post makes sense especially when you consider what was posted yesterday in the post "The Rise of Glossacracy." Our words have power and the internet has created an environment where any idea can be thrown out there and run with. Ideas never die.

John Sobieski said...

The plan is to be able to control 'hatesites' by being able to turn them off at the root. That is really what they are after. Of course, who gets to decide what is a hatesite would rest with the same elites who have already decided to submit to Islam.

Flanders Fields said...

There are endless scenarios which could result from this - none good- unless avenues to bypass attempted restrictions are found. There is no doubt that repression and harrassment for individuals and groups engaging in free people activities will result.

Just the fact that they will have the power is frightening. We had better be alert to similar moves in all areas where leftists operate - which is of course everywhere.

Nevsky said...

There is a type of warfare; in Russian it is Radio-Electronic Combat (REC), and in America it goes by different names in different branches of the service -- Electronic Warfare (EW) is understandable.

A key to successful REC or EW is not to eliminate the enemy's use of a system, but to slow it down and to manipulate it. If you shut him down, he knows something is up. If you slow him down, and goof him up subtly, you can lead him far astray, and he may never know.

Imagine going to Gates of Vienna, and reading about changes in the EU Constitution that little by little make it more and more acceptable. Imagine going to other blogs, and hearing about the rhetoric in the mosques getting less hateful, and the rape rate in Scandinavia dropping. By the time we figure out we've been "had", it's too late.

Don't think they can't do that in such a manner over time; is that not exactly how they are Islamifying Europe and implementing EUrabia?

Sheikh Abd Al-'Aziz Qari:
"....Until that day, the conflict between us, the Muslims, and the Jews and Christians will continue, and it will ebb and flow, one day ours, another day theirs…"

Sun Tzu:
"Therefore, determine the enemy's plans and you will know which strategy will be successful and which will not;
Agitate him and ascertain the pattern of his movement.
Determine his dispositions and so ascertain the field of battle."

ed said...

Hmmm.

Sorry folks but this is nonsense.

The US isn't going to give up control over the DNS servers to the EU.

No matter how much the EU whines about it.

Period.

Mr. Spog said...

I'm no expert, but if the EU eventually attempts to regulate access to outside (i.e. US) websites, as seems all too likely, they will presumably use methods similar to those pioneered by China and other countries. It is rumored that the way to access forbidden sites from China is to go through a proxy server in a free country. But the Chinese authorities should not know that the address you are accessing belongs to a proxy server; thus it should be hidden within some large institution such as a university. Europeans worried about this prospect might want to take any opportunity of setting up access to a proxy server of this kind. (Perhaps someone with more technical knowledge could elaborate or suggest alternatives.)

Baron Bodissey said...

ed --

Are you sure about that? Even during a Hillary Clinton administration?

VSK said...

If you have technical knowledge on this area, please write to me. If you have solution-oriented plans, write to me now. Sooner the better, if not 'no time like the present', aye.

livfreerdie said...

Step one, disarm the populace. Step two, disable free speech and assembly. Step three, do anything you want.

Tom

mellivora said...

If there is a way to hack it, some Finn will eventually find it.

MrSmith said...

Nevsky,

So what's the alternative to being slowly convinced that 'they're alright really'? Implacable emnity to all things moslem?

anti-uffe said...

mrsmith-

The alternative is being free to express your implacable enmity to all things Muslim without interference from Big Brother government, should you so wish. That simple.

Archonix said...

Despite the worries, even if the EU gets its hands on the DNS root it won't be able to block things, for two very good reasons. THe first: too many companies and individuals within the EU are absolutely reliant on the free movement of information across the EU's borders for routine business that would, if halted, bring the entire continent's economy to its knees in about a week. Of course given recent pronouncements and behaviour by the E comisariat this may not be what they're worried about. The second is much more fundamental, and may be the real reason they want to have control. By far the largest use for the internet (After searching for porn) is to allow the rapid transfer of information between financial institutions, including transfer of funds. It's all virtual these days. Several EU officials have expressed a desire to impose a "tobin tax" on financial transactions in and out of the EU, but there's no reliable way of doing this. Unless you can route all EU traffic through a particular set of servers. In short, they see it as a way of grabbing billions.

FOllow the money.

kepiblanc said...

Archonix, you may be right. But I was merely elaborating about EU censorship of individual domains. Let's say the EU doesn't like your political incorrect opinion. They can 1) Bully your ISP into canceling your account and force him to take your pages off the net, or 2) Erase your entry in the DNS system. Your pages will still be there, but nobody can find them and search engines will display only your IP number.

As I wrote to the Baron off-blog :

The problem isn't the 'underground' movements who are tech-savvy and capable of circumventing and bypassing whatever stupid governments may come up with. Being a part of a European 'resistance group' myself I'm quite aware of 'alternative' lines of communication, be it inside or outside the Internet.

What I was warning about is the public at large, who thinks that the Web is the Internet and just search for information outside the 'Dead Tree Media'. They know nothing about encryption, masquerading, proxies and so on and so forth, They are totally dependent on the DNS system, and when that is decapitated they're lost.

That's why the beheading of the DNS system is smart : people just don't notice. Getting a '404 - page not found' seems innocent enough and they just shrug their shoulders and carry on. But when Sweden recently bullied some ISP providers to remove entire domains (for example those who dared to print the cartoons) people noticed.

Politicians may be stupid, but they're clever enough to operate in the dark.

Like us.

Papa Bear said...

If the EU starts mucking around with DNS, they are easy enough to bypass. It's simple enough to set up private DNS servers (whether in Europe or the US)

On your Windows PC, take a look at Control_Panel->Network_Connections and click on your internet connection. If you click on the "Properties" button, and select TCP/IP and click the properties on that, you see a configuration box that allows you to specify the address of the DNS server you want to use

The net result will be that if the European governments start playing games, they will be bypassed (Unless, of course, they arm-twist Microsoft into disabling the ability to specify a DNS server, which is also a possibility)

It would also be possible to create a plug-in for browsers like Firefox that would do a name lookup on a designated server and maintain a name/IP database, on a complete bypass of the official DNS system

Nevsky said...

livfreerdie said...
Step one, disarm the populace. Step two, disable free speech and assembly. Step three, do anything you want.


Step one is irrelevant. If you have altered their speech and thought patterns so they do not resist you, you can leave the populace armed. In fact, it might be an advantage, in case "free people" ever come to "liberate" you; your guerrillas and mujahideen are already armed.

MrSmith said...
Nevsky,

So what's the alternative to being slowly convinced that 'they're alright really'? Implacable emnity to all things moslem?


My concern was about trojan websites masquerading as ones we trust, that slowly begin to deceive us.

The alternative, by the way, is refusing to compromise with those who perpetrate evil acts. In order to refuse to compromise with them, we need to be able to know who is doing the bad stuff, and what it is they are doing. Accurate information is the key.

It keeps coming back to this: more than anything, it's an Information War, but one where we now have new and improved Weapons of Mass (Information) Destruction.

Welcome to the twenty-first century.

kepiblanc said...

Papa Bear : You can do that and so can any Linux user, but the average, John Doe ? - And I'm sorry to say that if the EU thought police finds out about it I guess they'll block those DNS servers (firewall them at the IX-points. Any ISP has an Autonomous System (AS) number. In Europe this is handled by RIPE and a firewall rule here could filter out all non-authorized traffic to and from those servers. Of course that can be handled too - but yet again : by John Doe ?

PD111 said...

Baron

The advantage of ICANN being in the US is that the US has a strong constitutional committment to freedom of expression. The EU, though not quite the reverse, is not keen on this principle.

I would recommend that you get in touch with Richard North who runs the site

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/

and is very active on EU policy. He is also very informed on technical matters, as he is a highly qualified engineer (I think).

PD111 said...

Baron

This bit of news is alarming. I thought this thing was put to bed for atleast 5 years, so I'm surprised to see it come up again so soon.

Governments all over the world, as well as the UN, have been eyeing the internet as a source of revenue. This is what motivates them first and foremost- the US government will be no exception. It is up to Americans to to dissuage their government no to gove in. National pride etc can be used as arguements.

A couple of years ago the Australian government (I think), as well as the UN, tried to regulate the internet. The excuse, as is always the case, is to use a just and honourable cause - in this instance, child porn and the use of the internet by paedophiles to lure children. Now it is to stop fraud, illegal transfer of funds as well. The governments and their advisors will keep coming up with ever more reasons, and these will be happily supported by the MSM, BBC, and other media, as they are themselves worried, that their days of news management and opinion forming are coming to an end.

-----------------------------------------------------

No expert here but thinking aloud.

Maybe they dont have to get their hands on all the servers. All they have to do is to get their hands on the Comms companies who provide the hardwire backbone of the internet structure, and through whose cable/fibre the entire bandwidth between nations is carried. In the UK, this company is BT. The same applies in virtually all European nations, as the largest private sector comms company is the recently privatised state owned one.

We need experts here.

Nevsky said...

PD111,

Excellent comments. "They" are going to try to take away our freedom any way they can for any reason they can. It probably won't be dramatic, obvious or sudden; and "we" will probably approve of it in a vote.

This is not paranoid. "They" might be a common dictator, who simply wants to control what is said about him; "we" would catch that. "They" might also be decent people seriously worried about child porn and gun accidents. Then, too many of "us" will go along with it.

The people we need to watch out for are ourselves: what we agree to, and why, lest, by deception or foolishness, "we" become "they".

By the way: Thinking out loud is a good thing. Maybe I'm sitting here saying "2+2=3? No. 2+2=5?" And, although I'm missing the mark, someone else gets it. The interaction is what makes us stronger. That's why God didn't stop with Adam.

Nevsky said...

Here's some paranoia.

A while ago, I tried to check out Infidel Blogger's Alliance -- the site wouldn't come up.

Just now I tried The Murky Waters -- the site wouldn't come up.

Just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean that they're not out to get you! ;)

PD111 said...

nevsky

Recent events have shown, that bloggers are having an impact on the formation of opinion that actually impacts policy. This must be seen as a threat by not only journalists but politicians as well, and to the cosy relationship between politicians and the media.

Nevsky said...

I think that's what we're hoping for. :)

It reminds me of something I read once. An American Air Force officer showed me something called "Murphy's Laws of Combat". I very distinctly remember one: "Try not to look important -- the enemy may be low on ammunition."

The Ideological War's Mujahideen would do well to keep in mind another: "Tracers work both ways."

Well, here's to getting a fatwa on us!

Flanders Fields said...

For anyone having interest in this issue, there are basic links to different sources at my posting, http://myflandersfields.blogspot.com/2007/02/internet-independence-basic-resources.html

I am not familiar enough with the issue myself to determine whether any of these are of benefit, but it is a starting place to browse and come away with some ideas. Maybe someone is experienced enough with the issue to make further suggestions. Thanks for bringing the issue to our attention.